Week 5, where you start paying attention to where your team is in the table:
• We start with Burnley vs. Liverpool Sunderland, a 4:40 AM PST start on ESPN2. Thanks ESPN. You’re not going to get me up for that one, even with 5 red bulls, four jelly donuts, and naked cheerleaders (all with their teeth perfectly aligned). Sorry ESPN. I’m betting on no match-up piece this week.
• A quick note and apology, TSG doesn’t cover the UEFA Cup/Europa League. We’re a small publication and we’ll start covering more of the Champion’s League once the knockout rounds begin.
• It’s all about Sunday this week. You have Chelsea and Tottenham facing off and then the derby everyone’s been waiting for: United vs. City. Sadly, the shiny new City sportscar is missing a couple horsepower with Adebayor now suspended for three games for his premeditated stomp and Big Mouth Tevez afflicted by injury and most likely out of the contest.
Some more notes from the derby:
TSG was in Carlos Tevez’s camp last year and love his take-no-prisoners all-out style, but he really needs to have a better PR manager and limit his press clippings. That being said, the way Tevez pinballs around the pitch and menaces the opposing defense–well, I’m going to send the DVD to the USMNT forwards.
Dimitar Berbatov is quickly looking like a bust at Old Trafford. Have you seen a top-rated striker miss as many gimmes as he has? While he’s extremely valueable in dictating possession and creating space through precise passing, his style has never embodied the Glory, Glory and he needs to start scoring to justify his huge contract and transfer sum. P.S. This has nothing to do with the fact that Berbatov killed my fantasy team last year and is now off it this year.
Anderson–rumored to be in Ferguson’s dog house just a few weeks ago–has really come on for the Red Devils. I think the Man U skipper realized his deficiencies in the center midfield and realized he needed to get his more skilled youngster out there even with his lack of consistency.
Continuing with the center midfield, don’t belive that Sir Alex thinks he can get 25 games from Paul Scholes. The Red Devil manager has been very careful with Scholes pitch time, beyond that this is just posturing before January’s transfer window–which sets up nicely with one less suitor now (Chelsea ban). Man United has been linked to everyone from Jack Rodwell this summer to more recently Daniel De Rossi (public enemy number #2 or #3 for the US World Cup team) and currently Valencia’s David Silva.
Ferguson is just trying to keep the asking price down for CM(s) heading into the new year transfer session. For our part, TSG thinks Silva is the right guy for the job as Man United lacks possession in the middle of the pitch. If Man U can recognize their deficiency, why can’t the USMNT?
•More on Chelsea-Tottenham:
You want some stats on how fearful defenders are of getting physically punked by Chelsea tough guy striker Didier Drogba. Drogba is in the top 5 with 4 goals, but Didier’s got 35–that’s right–35 shots on goal this year in just five EPL games. How does a man that big get that much space in front of goal? It’s when defenders are scared of you both rounding them and bowling them over.
With Luka Modric out with injury, White Hart Lane has brought in Niko Kranjcar from Portsmouth as they continue to build their Eastern European army. Once thought to be an emerging star in the league, Kranjcar has battled injuries and a shaky ownership and management situation at Portsmouth. Look for Kranjcar to excel at Tottenham just like Lasanna Diarri has shined as a defensive cog for Real Madrid upon leaving Pompey.
Quite a crowded and qualified midfield Harry Rednapp will have at his disposal once Modric returns. Huddlestone, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Kranjcar, Bentley, Jenas, and even O’Hara. Look for pretty boy Bentley to get dealt sometime in the next few weeks for whatever deal can be found. What a mightly fall for the once-heir to the David Beckham free kick national team throne. If not Bentley, then expect Jenas to go and I would think he’s a good fit for Villa.
• Some not so good news for American Eddie Johnson. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is balking at back-up striker Diomany Kamara’s attempted loan to Newcastle citing a wealth of games coming up. We’ve been following the Fulham striker situation for awhile and that’s not good news. That leaves Bobby Zamora, Andrew Johnson (now healthy), Erik Nevland, Diomany Kamara and even Clint Dempsey (who featured up top when Johnson was out) ahead of EJ curently. I imagine EJ is less worried about making a bid for World Cup 2010 than trying to find his career right now.
• Look for Jozy to be up and off the pine when Hull take on new promoted Birmingham this Saturday. Hull play in their killer home digs, KC Stadium and Birmingham is likely without their main offensive weapon James McFadden.
It looks like Hull City manager Phil Brown is lining up a striking triumvirate of Kamil Ghilas, JZA and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Yes that is the guy’s full last name. Before you Bing or Google it, the name’s origins are from a marriage between two families in V of H’s homeland of Holland and an attempt to keep track of two family lineages. (One note, that dude’s name — it’s so long it keeps messing up the post’s formatting here at TSG — from now on, V of H and that’s it.)
West Ham face Liverpool at home in the late game on Saturday. Our Jonathan Spector review continues. If he’s on the left side, he’s going to go up against the stiker that Tim Howard just put at the top of his three most dangerous list this past week. Check out Grant Wahl’s piece on Howard from earlier this week and see who the other two target men that Big T fears–hint: really no surprise. Oh, and TSG loves Wahl’s reporting, if you don’t read him regularly, you should.
The Gooch Watch: We don’t want Boardwalk, Park Place or even Marvin Gardens. We’re giving our Get Out of
Jail Free card to the Gooch this weekend, zero conditions. As we’ve been saying at TSG for a few weeks, this is the weekend we hope to see Oguchi Onyewu for the home side Milan. Milan is home against bottom of the table Bologna who have managed only a single tally in a draw to middle table Bari (note: Bari did draw Inter as well) and loss to Verona.
If you don’t see Onyewu this weekend, your next bet will be Sunday, October 4th against another bottom-feeder, Atalanta. If Gooch, doesn’t show this weekend against Bologna, my brother will be dialing up with fitness concern piece with lots of “Chad Marshall(s)” for the US-Honduras game.
If Gooch doesn’t show against Bologna and Atalanta, well then Bob Bradley is right to start getting worried.
Have a good weekend and don’t miss that Manchester Derby. After all the talk in the offseason, this will be a good game.
Don’t forget to vote in our player poll on the right. I thought Inzaghi would be leading for sure…not happening.
(Update: My brother alerted me to two confusing parts of this piece, so I’ll just add in some more info here.)
“Glory, Glory” used above refers to Man United and the Man United theme song
The Daniel DeRossi comment in parenthesis refers to his elbow and sending off against the US in 2006.